The first Inuit Bible is to be published in Canada. It has taken 34 years for a team of Inuk Anglican ministers to translate the text into Inuktitut.
A statement from the Canadian Bible Society, which launched the project in association with the Anglican church, says:
“For the first time in Canada, the entire translation was done by mother tongue speakers of the language rather than by missionaries.”
A lot of words could not be translated at all, as there is no Inuktitut equivalent. Words such as “camel” and “pomegranate” remain in English. Where the Bible refers to different species of tree, the generic term for “tree” was used in Inuktitut. Reverend Canon Jonas Allooloo, one of the translators, explains,
“It’s just like you have one word for snow but we have many words for snow.”
He added that the most difficult words were “peace” and “grace.” These concepts have no Inuit equivalent terms. Instead, translators had to convey the meaning using more liberal translation.
Whilst the New Testament, which was completed by the Inuk translators first, was published in 1992; the complete edition will be launched officially in a ceremony next month at the igloo shaped St. Jude’s Anglican Cathedral in the capital of Nunavut, Iqaluit.